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May 9, 2014

Be prepared for pet emergencies

Our pets are members of our families and play important roles in our lives. Many people have learned first aid for humans, but not for their four-legged counterparts.

If an emergency arose with Fido or Fluffy, would you know what to do? Here is a list to help you be prepared.

1. Veterinary contact information. Administering first aid to your pet can provide lifesaving treatment in an emergency. However, it should always be followed by a trip to your veterinarian. Be prepared and keep the phone numbers for your veterinarian and the emergency veterinarian handy.

It’s also a good idea to drive to the emergency veterinary hospital before a crisis arises. That way, you won’t waste time asking for directions or getting lost when every minute counts.

If possible, have someone call to let the veterinarian know you are coming. That way, the medical team can be prepared for your pet’s emergency.

2. Limping or other pain. If your pet is limping, he hurts. A severe limp needs immediate attention. The possibilities may include Lyme disease, torn ligaments or fractures.

Never administer human pain medication to pets. Although people and animals share many drugs, pain medication is different. For example, Tylenol can kill your cat, and ibuprofen is on the ASPCA’s Top Toxins of 2013. Even aspirin has never been approved for use in animals.

3. Poisons. If you think your pet may have been exposed to a toxin, call pet poison control. They will guide you through the next few steps, and will be available for follow-up if your veterinarian needs to talk to them.

Both the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680, www.petpoisonhelpline.com) and the Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435, www.aspca.org) have toxicologists available. There is a small fee for this service, but it could save your pet’s life.

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